21 April 2006


Date:2006 April 21, 11:31 (Friday) Canonical ID:06BUCHAREST665_a

Original Classification:CONFIDENTIAL Current Classification:CONFIDENTIAL

Handling Restrictions-- Not Assigned --

Character Count:9384

Executive Order:-- Not Assigned -- Locator:TEXT ONLINE

TAGS:CASC - Consular Affairs--Assistance to Citizens | PGOV - Political Affairs--Government; Internal Governmental Affairs | PHUM - Political Affairs--Human Rights | PREL - Political Affairs--External Political Relations | RO - Romania | SIPDIS | SOCI - Social Affairs--Social Conditions Concepts:-- Not Assigned --

Enclosure:-- Not Assigned -- Type:TE - Telegram (cable)

Office Origin:-- N/A or Blank --

Office Action:-- N/A or Blank -- Archive Status:-- Not Assigned --

From:Romania Bucharest Markings:-- Not Assigned --

To:Group Destinations European Political Collective | Secretary of State | U.S. Mission to European Union (formerly EC) (Brussels)

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Classified By: CHARGE MARK TAPLIN FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) & (D).

1. (SBU) Summary. On April 17, the Romanian Office for

Adoptions (ROA) publicly announced that no inter-country

adoptions would result from the government's review of the

petitions by foreign families to adopt Romanian children

filed before the January 1, 2005 ban on inter-country

adoption took effect. We do not consider this announcement to

be the final word on the matter, and propose a range of

actions to encourage the Government of Romania (GOR)

eventually to allow some of the adoptions to proceed. End


Working Group Completes "Review"


2. (U) On April 17, the Romanian Office for Adoptions (ROA)

publicly announced the results of the Working Group that

reviewed the petitions by foreign families to adopt Romanian

children filed before the January 1, 2005 ban on

inter-country adoption took effect. The Secretary of State

of the ROA, Theodora Bertzi, made clear to the press that

none of the 1,100 pending cases would be resolved through

inter-country adoption. Bertzi has further instructed child

welfare departments at the county level to prohibit contact

between children in the protection system and foreigners,

except for those who are their relatives up to the fourth

degree; adopted siblings of the children in question; or

those who an independent child psychiatrist has determined

have bonds of affection such that cutting the contact would

be harmful to the Romanian child.

3. (U) On January 18, Bertzi gave an interview to the

Romanian newspaper "Adevarul" in which she stated "most" of

the 178 cases of international adoption for which her office

lacks the post-adoption reports required by Romanian law

involve U.S. families. In the article, Bertzi expressed

concern about the case of William Peckenpaugh, the American

who was convicted in Oregon in 2005 and sentenced to 30

years, imprisonment for the sexual abuse of the Romanian boy

he adopted. Her remarks seemed intended to bolster the

unfounded argument of opponents of inter-country adoption

that children adopted abroad, once out of the control of the

Romanian government, are at higher risk of abuse and


4. (U) Post,s analysis of the Working Group report

indicates that it is designed primarily to cater to vocal

opponents of inter-country adoption in the European

Commission (EC), in advance of the May 15 EC report that is

expected to confirm Romania will join the European Union on

January 1, 2007. We suspect that the report was also issued

to stave off any pro-adoption recommendations that might

result from the European Parliament's April 25 adoption

meeting in Brussels.

Best Interests of the Children?


5. (SBU) The results indicate on their face that the Working

Group did not place the best interests of the children as its

the highest priority, but rather applied a selective mix of

interpretations of current legislation, past legislation and

previously confidential guidelines in matching the

preordained political decision not to allow inter-country

adoptions. The April 17 ROA press statement claimed the case

review was complete in November 2005. In contrast, GOR

officials told the Ambassador, PolChief and Consul General as

late as January 2005 that the review was still underway.

Bertzi appears to be seeking to justify her public statement

on December 7 -- one day after Secretary Rice,s visit to

Bucharest -- that no inter-country adoptions would be


6. (U) The Working Group report consigns hundreds of

children to non-permanent "substitute" families. Post

discounts Bertzi,s public and private claims that Romania

can find domestic solutions for all of its orphans and

abandoned children. Contacts among Romanian NGOs and local

officials further confirm what post officers have observed

first-hand in Romanian child centers in recent months, namely

that at least hundreds of children remain in institutions or

group homes, many in substandard conditions of physical and

emotional care (reftel B).

BUCHAREST 00000665 002 OF 003

It's Not Over Until It's Over


7. (C) Now that Romania appears poised to receive a green

light for EU accession in January 2007, there may be

political space for the GOR to reconsider at least a limited

number of "pending" cases. Some contacts in other concerned

embassies and NGOs in Romania believe the GOR will not risk

moving forward before the actual accession date. On the

other hand, Bucharest is already showing signs of factoring

in a positive decision on EU membership in other political

calculations. The argument that accession is in any respect

hanging in the balance over the adoptions issue will be

utterly hollow once the spring EU accession review report is

released in mid-May. Thus, we believe there remains some

potential for the GOR to adopt a different political tak on

the pending cases and to look for ways to rlease a limited

number of children under some kid of "review of the review"

process. The GOR miht defend such a change in policy as

being based n new information or changed circumstances in

spcific cases. With both the Romanian President, an

increasingly, the Prime Minister, expressing inerest in

visiting the United States before the ed of the year, we may

find some useful leverage in the months ahead.

The Road Ahead


8. (SBU) In light of the above, we recommen continued

engagement on this issue. Without rasing the expectations

of potential adoptive parets unreasonably, we should operate

on the basis that there is nothing necessarily final in

Bertzi' "final" report on the pending cases. Furthermore

the stark reality is that some of the children emain in

circumstances that fall well short of acceptable child

welfare standards, whatever statements some GOR officials

make to the contrary.

9. (C) We plan to undertake the following steps:

a. Consul General will respond the week of April 24 to

Bertzi,s letter that transmitted to the Ambassador a copy of

the Working Group report. The CG will state that we consider

the case review to have lacked transparency and not to have

been based on the best interests of the children; and request

the opportunity to review selected cases with an independent

child welfare expert. (This review could include any of the

94 petitions filed by American families that the ROA

announced on November 3, 2005 were not eligible for

inter-country adoption. At the time of that announcement, it

remained arguable that the Working Group review was credible.

Subsequent developments made clear that the results were

preordained, bringing the November 3 results back into

question.) We plan to show this letter to the embassies of

France, Greece, Italy, Spain and Israel to encourage them to

take similar steps.

b. On April 25, a hearing on Romania,s inter-country

adoption policy is scheduled at the European Parliament in

Strasbourg. Post anticipates a contentious debate, involving

pro- and anti-adoption Parliamentarians, among the latter the

Liberal MEP and former Rapporteur for Romania Baroness Emma

Nicholson. American families seeking to adopt, and Romanian

NGO representatives, are scheduled to speak. Post believes

close monitoring of the hearing is important as a sign of

continued USG engagement, and to allow a current assessment

of EP sentiment on the issue. The active involvement of our

colleagues at USEU Brussels has helped to change the policy

environment on the pending cases outside the borders of

Romania, and we will now accelerate our own efforts to

challenge the GOR status quo on the basis that no European

consensus on this issue now exists and, as observed above,

there are no implications for EU accession.

c. In late May, USAID Bucharest will sponsor a conference on

progress made by the US-funded child welfare program and next

steps to reform the sector. We plan for the Ambassador to

make a speech at the event including a more forward-leaning

assessment of the current child welfare and adoption system

in Romania than he has offered to date in public. The

conference has been timed to follow a positive announcement

about Romania's 2007 accession date.

d. In June, post would propose a letter from a high-ranking

USG official to the GOR, once again urging reconsideration of

the Working Group results and a legal framework to allow

inter-country adoption where called for.

10. (C) Given the importance of not raising false hopes

among the American families whose adoption petitions are at

BUCHAREST 00000665 003 OF 003

stake, post recommends making clear to them we have no

assurance our efforts will succeed, but that in a rapidly

evolving adoptions policy climate in Brussels and Strasbourg,

we should not give up the ship just yet.